Dear Inner Circle,
There has been a steady influx of faces, both new and familiar arriving on these cold winter mornings outside our centres. As soon as doors open, the showers are running and hot meals are ready to be served. Our community centres come to life as our frontline workers and volunteers get to work extending love, support and care to people with a sense of urgency. To look at the faces in our community cafes and outside in our courtyards is to witness the transformation a hot shower and fresh set of clothes can make when delivered in love after a bitter night on the streets. “I feel alive again, and human, and most people have no idea how good that feels,” a beaming young woman told me as we shared a cup of tea together and the morning glow returned to her weary face. Great pain and suffering can lead to an appreciation of the things in life that are far too easy to take for granted, seemingly small things, which for many can be the difference between life and death.
Fleeting shared moments like this are the foundation stones for the trust we build slowly with all who seek us out. The ability to keep our doors open every single day over the past few years has been an important way of saying to all who turn to us, “We are here for you.” So, when they first arrive, we greet them not as a set of problems to be fixed, but rather acknowledge that while there are often many challenges ahead, they are first met and connected with as a person. The complexity of each person’s journey rarely presents itself on the first day; it slowly reveals itself at a gentler pace and we are committed to matching that pace, ready to provide the best care when they are.
I only ask you when I need to, and am always so hesitant to do so. Yet you always leave me speechless with your generosity. I would be so grateful if you could provide a heart-warming gift to our Winter Appeal so we can continue to be part of that journey towards healing for our visitors this winter. Please make a donation to Winter Appeal today.
Over the years that my wife Lisa and I took kids from the streets into our home, we wouldn’t immediately give them a key because they were guests in our home and they needed to earn a key. Often, they would ask, “Don’t you trust me?” Many confuse trust as a commodity that is given rather than as a fragile connection that demands a slow build and is maintained through a series of promises made and kept. We do the same at Wayside, as hosts we build this connection with people who seek our help, one step at a time. As our visitors learn to trust us to provide showers and clean undies, beyond the necessities, they may begin to trust us with some of the deeper parts of their hearts.
The odds are stacked against our visitors, especially during the cold winter months. COVID and the flu are ripping through the community at an alarming rate and even the most hardened rough sleepers are turning to us right now seeking urgent respite. We are ready and waiting – not just with a community of warmth and love, but also with the skills and support systems to get people off the streets and into safe housing and to provide access to healthcare, so that the worst period of someone’s life doesn’t necessarily have to be turned into their final one.
With patience and care, our heroes on the frontline sit with people in their darkest moments, allowing their hearts to thaw so that we can gently guide them to better days – however long that takes. Thanks for standing with us.
From those you may never meet, this is a note of thanks for your continued support as part of our community – and the lives you will save. I promise to keep on sharing their stories with you with their permission.
Thanks for being a part of our Inner Circle,
Rev. Jon Owen
CEO & Pastor